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The Impact on HIV Testing Over 6 Months When Free Oral HIV Self-Test Kits Were Available to Truck Drivers in Kenya: A Randomized Controlled Trial

The Impact on HIV Testing Over 6 Months When Free Oral HIV Self-Test Kits Were Available to Truck Drivers in Kenya: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Background: Studies suggest that offering HIV self-testing (HIVST) increases short-term HIV testing rates, but few have looked at long-term outcomes.

Methods: We conducted a randomized controlled trial (RIDIE 55847d64a454f) on the impact of offering free oral HIVST to 305 truck drivers recruited from two clinics in Kenya. We previously reported that those offered HIVST were more likely to accept testing. Here we report on the 6-month follow-up during which intervention participants could pick-up HIVST kits from eight clinics.

Results: There was no difference in HIV testing during 6-month follow-up between participants in the intervention and the standard of care (SOC) arms (OR = 1.0, p = 0.877). The most common reasons given for not testing were lack of time (69.6%), low risk (27.2%), fear of knowing HIV status (20.8%), and had tested recently (8.0%). The null association was not modified by having tested at baseline (interaction p = 0.613), baseline risk behaviors (number of partners in past 6 months, interaction p = 0.881, had transactional sex in past 6 months, interaction p = 0.599), nor having spent at least half of the past 30 nights away from home for work (interaction p = 0.304). Most participants indicated a preference for the characteristics associated with the SOC [preference for blood-based tests (69.4%), provider-administered testing (74.6%) testing in a clinic (70.1%)]. However, those in the intervention arm were more likely to prefer an oral swab test than those in the SOC (36.6 vs. 24.6%, p = 0.029).

Conclusions: Offering HIVST kits to truck drivers through a clinic network had little impact on testing rates over the 6-month follow-up when participants had to return to the clinic to access HIVST. Clinic-based distribution of HIVST kits may not address some major barriers to testing, such as lack of time to go to a clinic, fear of knowing one’s status and low risk perception. Preferred HIV testing attributes were consistent with the SOC for most participants, but oral swab preference was higher among those in the intervention arm, who had seen the oral HIVST and had the opportunity to try it. This suggests that preferences may change with exposure to different testing modalities.

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